After being under the same management for 15 years, South Side Yanni’s is getting a menu makeover — and it’s starting with Restaurant Week.
Traditionally, the restaurant specializes in serving both American and Greek food thanks to its previous owners, George and Dino Kermidas. However, the restaurant’s new owners, John and Susanne Clarke, are looking to take the menu in a new direction by mid-May.
Chef Ryan Richards was hired under a month ago as South Side Yanni’s new cook. His vision is to bring a new vibe to the flavors and textures of classic American fusion food. Since this is the restaurant’s fourth time participating in Restaurant Week, it’s giving Richards the chance to debut new food.
“We’re certainly getting new faces in here,” Richards said. “New people are getting a look at the business and that’s kind of why we’re doing something different than what it used to be.”
Located at 1200 Vestal Ave., the restaurant has the disadvantage of not being in the heart of Downtown Binghamton. It stands alone on a corner, overshadowed by other popular restaurants such as Whole in the Wall and Number 5. But South Side Yanni’s has the vibe of the quintessential Downtown restaurant. With dim lights, large space and a relaxed vibe, the restaurant is reminiscent of Uncle Tony’s on State Street. If the restaurant was centrally located Downtown, there’s a high chance it would attract more Binghamton University students.
What makes South Side Yanni’s stand out immediately is its speedy service. Despite having multiple patrons during dinner hours, the wait staff is energetic and extremely helpful.
The restaurant’s $21 three-course dinner begins with a choice of either a homemade soup or a roasted sweet potato quinoa salad. The homemade soup, a creamy chicken potato bacon soup, is a standard soup with a twist. Don’t bother searching for bacon bits. Unlike with other soups that pride themselves on featuring bacon, this one has bacon-infused potatoes. The roasted sweet potato quinoa salad also puts a spin on the classic salad and leaves you wondering if you should pursue healthy eating more often.
Richards takes a lot of pride in the fact that everything is fresh, healthy and made from scratch.
“Everything works together, flavor-wise,” Richards said. “And I guess no matter what you get, whether it be the soup or salad, going into the entrée it’s going to complement it. It’s not going to be so dramatic.”
For the second course, the pan-roasted salmon and char-grilled ribeye steak are two entrées that stand out the most on the menu. Although both seem overcooked when you first bite into them from the outside, both entrées are delicious in their own ways. What makes the pan-roasted salmon special is that despite how small it looks, it will fill you up because of the abundance of parsnip puree. And if you like the puree more than salmon, you can spend the rest of your meal eating that. The char-grilled ribeye steak is worth picking off of the dinner menu because you get your money’s worth out of how big the steak is. Instead of wasting your time buying a big steak from a chain restaurant, you can stop by South Side Yanni’s for a better deal.
The final course is a choice between two desserts: an Oreo-chocolate mousse or rice pudding. Richards said that these two desserts are time efficient and a nice way to end your meal, and they definitely are.
Although South Side Yanni’s is not yet the type of restaurant that leaves you with a life-changing culinary experience in tow, there is a homey aspect to the place that gives you a sense of comfort and welcome you can’t find anywhere else. If you’re looking for a familiar place where everyone wants to know your name, look no further than South Side Yanni’s.